Author Archives: paulw94

DIG Report End July 2021

DIG AGM

The DIG AGM was held during July. The main points were that the accounts for 2020/2021 were audited and signed off by Bob Hawkins, the bank accounts is now closed and funds transferred to HVRA. In addition, the new constitution was approved and officers agreed to continue.

Drainage Issues

Trees Rd suffered from a heavy day’s rain with the road grills overflowing and a large amount of puddling at the foot. The Trees Rd team cleared the grills a day or two after.

We reviewed this with Jonathan Roberts the drainage engineer from Bucks CC. He will consider possible additional work, such as joining the grill soakaways to the road drains pipeage. Also he will look at the road surface & edging blocks at the foot of Trees Rd. This will not be priority work.

The DIG team also met with Jonathan to look at the drainage issue that we have at the corner of Boss Lane by the Hopkins field gate and which can lead to flooding of Boss Lane. There is an issue of drainage pipe sizing here plus some other problems. We have not been successful in making progress. Jonathan agreed to conduct some research  into historical survey data and also to look at possible solutions to our problem.

Paul Woodford

Drainage Works in the Valley

Thames Water are currently carrying out drainage works up in Warrendene Road for a serious amount of work. We understand that the sewage inspection pits in the road are being re-rendered around the tops and the lids will then be sealed.

The purpose of this is to prevent the entry of surface water into the sewage system, which contributes significantly to the overloading of the system in Hughenden Valley.

We understand this work will be carried out over several weeks and go right down Valley Road as well as Warrendene. There may be disruption to road users as parts of the sewage system in upper Valley Road run along the centre of the road.

DIG Report End April 2021

Sewer Status

Just when we all assumed that the sewer problems in the Valley had gone away, we found out that they haven’t. After the recent dry weather, inspection pit levels had pretty much returned to normal levels and it was largely assumed that the problems had gone away.

However, late in the month it was discovered that the ‘back of houses’ sewer run that is opposite the Village Hall was full and close to overflowing.  The Boss Lane sewer, which it joins, is also dangerously full. TW have visited a few times, but other than pumping out one resident’s inspection pit, have simply checked levels and advised there is little they can do. We keep monitoring.

Ditch Clearance

On the 10th April, the day of the Village litter pick, a small group of volunteers gathered by the pumping station for a general clear-up of the ditches and culverts there.

The culverting where the stream runs under Valley Road was in much need of clearance of leaves, twigs and assorted rubbish.

Fortunately the ditch along towards the Village Hall was in better shape, although the ditch itself is quite deep and difficult to access. Having said that, a couple of hours work has left the area in much better shape. It’s something that we plan to do regularly from now on, perhaps two or three times a year.

Road Drains

After pestering Transport for Bucks via the FixMyStreet website, we have at last had some serious work done on the road drains through the Valley from Church Farm up to the end of Warrendene Road. Hopefully they are all in good order now.

DIG Website

The HVDIG website is no longer being updated. Although still there, the Home page and Blog advise that the web site is no longer being updated and to go to http://www.hughendenresidents.org/dig. 

Paul Woodford

3 May 2021

Spotted in the Valley

After months of requesting the road drains to be jetted and cleaned, something seems to be happening. A team from TfB was spotted mid-week cleaning in Valley Road.

We hope the work continues because a recent audit by a DIG team found that roughly 70 of the 100 or so road drains from Church Farm up to the end of Warrendene were partially or totally blocked.

April Update

Audit of Drains

A small group of 4 within the DIG spent a busy couple of days in March carrying out an audit of the road drains from Church Farm right up through the village to the end of Warrendene Road. The result was that some 70 drains were blocked or partially blocked out of 100 or so. These were reported (individually) via the FixMyStreet website to TfB, and to their credit, the tops of all of them have been brushed since then. Actual cleaning/jetting may take a little longer – it’s only been a year so far.

DIG Website

The DIG website has been rebuilt and is now accessible from within the HVRA website, and adopts the same look and feel as the HVRA website. Take a look – it’s at www.hughendenresidents.org/dig although for the meanwhile the old website is still there at www.hvdig.org .

Status of Sewers

I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief in that the levels in our inspection pits have dropped and the risk of sewage escapes appear to be receding.

There have been two instances of the sewer junction at the corner of the pumping station leaking sewage, causing much consternation in the village. The DIG has written to Thames Water and requested for the inspection hatch to be replaced with a sealed lid. We wait to see if we get a positive answer.

Trees Road

We requested via FixMyStreet that the broken up road surface at the foot of Trees Rd be repaired as it was hazardous and leaving a semi-permanent pool of water there. This area has been quickly repaired, but it remains to be seen if the repair will prevent the pooling of water there – it’s meant to be able to run down the road to the nearest drain. We also need to speak with the water engineer to see if deeper soakaways are feasible there, as one of the soakaways completely overflowed in the last downpour.

Ditches & Culverts Group

We have set up a small group of volunteers for the ditches & stream area near the pumping station, as that is rather prone to accumulating rubbish. The first clean is planned for Saturday 10th April

We know also that for some years just one person has been looking after the ditch area opposite the Harrow, which is also prone to blocking up. It would be good to gather a few others to help out occasionally with that.

Agencies Update

Bucks Council have been successful in their bid regarding the Chilterns & Berkshire Downs Groundwater Resilience project. This means they will receive Defra funding for groundwater monitoring systems, which will include covering Hughenden Valley. A workshop will follow.

Thames Water has advised us that they are introducing a new planning system to replace their existing Drainage Strategy plans. (See the Little Marlow Drainage Strategy on the Documents page of the DIG website). The new planning system is referred to as a Groundwater Impacted System Management Plan (GISMP).

The GISMP’s focus is upon groundwater monitoring and the infiltration of groundwater into the sewage network. Where risk zones are identified it is planned to conduct fixes and improvement interventions within the normal maintenance cycle – presumably this means in the relative short term. Larger interventions will require budget and hence a longer cycle to resolve.

Sewage Leak at Corner of Pumping Station

On 17th February, a leak was spotted from the sewage inspection hatch at the corner of the pumping station site in the village. This hatch, which lies in the National Trust field (and hence open to all), is sited where the sewage pipe from Naphill comes down to join the main sewer heading to Wycombe.

The leak has tended to be intermittent and not a great flow, but nevertheless has been allowing sewage to get into the watercourse. The DIG alerted Thames Water on 18th and the site was visited by engineers, but they advised that the leak was due to hydraulic pressure and little could be done other than waiting for the pressure on the sewers to recede.

Since then we have alerted the Environment Agency, whose responsibility it is to monitor such leaks, plus the National Trust. The NT put up the signs towards the end of last week.

we are mailing the NT this week to suggest that they should consider putting further signs up in the park, where of course, dogs and children play in the waters.

Leaking Inspection Hatch

Article for Hughenden News Spring Edition

The Stream, Water Table and the Sewers

The winterbourne stream flows again this year in the village, and that makes it two years in a row, in itself a bit of a rarity. Although the stream dried up in the upper reaches last summer, it kept flowing all the way through from Church Farm. Since January, the source of the stream has gradually worked its way back up the Valley and through the village. At the time of writing, the stream is flowing from the ditch opposite the Harrow and down through the village. Strangely, it does not appear in the Hopkins Farm field alongside Valley Road, but re-emerges in Boss Lane.

The downside of having the stream up is that the water table is up in the Valley also. This applies particularly along Valley Road towards the pumping station. Here we know that the sewer main running to High Wycombe is currently full. In a wet winter such as this latest one, ground water and surface water infiltrate the system and overload it. The net result is the risk of sewage escapes, an unpleasant experience. Householders here are watching the situation closely and checking levels in their inspection pits. Thames Water is fully alerted to this situation and if it worsens we may need to call in temporary overpumping systems to help ease the pressure in the sewer main.

Trees Road & Trees Avenue

During the winter it was decided to try and build a small team to perform some self-help on the drainage grills at the foot of Trees Road. Both Trees Ave and Trees Road are un-made up and prone to clogging the drains and allowing water to sweep down onto Valley Road causing a few issues. A small team already existed cleaning the grills in Trees Ave.

The net result was a WhatsApp group of about 15 residents from both roads to perform periodic cleaning. The group go together on 24th January – a day of heavy snow you might recall – for the first clean. The job itself is not trivial, especially this first one, as the job had not been done on Trees Road for years. The team was led by David Mynors who showed the rest how to dismantle the grids and clear the drainage conduits. This was a great result, after two hours of hard work, with everyone wishing that a visit to the Harrow was possible.

Since then, TfB have visited after much badgering to perform a jetting & drain cleaning operation. They are needed to clear out the drains and pipework adjacent to the drainage grills. All we have to do now is persuade TfB that the rest of the road drains in Hughenden Valley need cleaning.

HVDIG Now Part Of HVRA

A special meeting of HVDIG took place at the end of January via Zoom and HVDIG is now part of the residents association and led by Peter Cannon, the Chairman. We are now called the HVRA Drainage Improvement Group.

As a first step, the HVDIG website has been altered to include the name changes and now incorporates the HVRA website banner/heading that emphasises the new identity. Further changes will take place over time, such as constitution and banking.

New Name for HVDIG

Special Meeting

The planned DIG Special Meeting took place at the end of January via Zoom and we are now a part of the Hughenden Residents Association and officially known as the HVRA Drainage Improvement Group.  

Peter Cannon was elected Chairman and the meeting discussed matters such as future finances, the constitution, financing and the website. In addition we discussed how the DIG will proceed in future. Changes will take place slowly, starting with the website.

The meeting minutes have been placed on the Docs page.

The Stream, Water Table and the Sewers

The winterbourne stream has kept flowing right the way through this last year. Although it dried up during the summer in the upper reaches, it kept flowing from Church Farm down through the park. And since January, the wet winter has resulted in the stream working its way back up through into Hughenden Valley and along the backs of the houses. I can’t remember seeing the stream running two years in a row in the village before.

This has meant, of course, that the water table is high and is continuing to rise at present. Inevitably, this means that the infiltration of ground water into the sewage system will present a risk of sewage escapes if the rains continue. Neighbours at the south end of the village are monitoring levels in their inspection pits – sewage unable to drain into the main sewer is a sure sign of the sewer being under pressure. Thames Water have been alerted to this.

Trees Rd & Trees Ave

In the last blog I described the drainage issues in these two roads and that we were trying to build a small team of volunteers to periodically clear the drainage grids. The response was far greater than expected and there exists now a WhatsApp group of about 15 neighbours ready to turn out from time to time.

On 24th January – the day of some heavy snow in our area, the team assembled for the first clean operation. The job itself is not trivial and the guys were shown by David Mynors from Trees Ave how to dismantle the grids and clear the drainage conduits. All in all, a two hour job in very cold and snowy conditions, but a great result in the end. See the pic.

It is hoped that by doing this work we will build a better relationship with TfB and the councils; hopefully by showing that we can contribute towards looking after the village, they will respond more favourably towards us when we call for help.

New Year Update

Happy New Year.

HVDIG Special Meeting

The Special DIG meeting planned for this month will take place on Thursday 28th January at 7.30pm. This will be held using Zoom, and we have decided that we will restrict attendance to the Committee members only. In part this is because of the quality issues that happen when more than one person speaks at a time, but also in part because of our lack of experience with running such a meeting.

If you would have liked to attend and wanted to offer an opinion on our way forward, or ask a question, contact me and I’ll raise it at the meeting. Nevertheless, we will issue minutes of the meeting and will also ensure that we provide an opportunity to review the points discussed when we have the opportunity to meet together. No doubt we all look forward to the day that it can happen.

Trees Road & Trees Avenue

These unmade-up roads have drainage grills running across the road at its foot and which connect to the road drains. The roads are hilly and susceptible to large levels of water running down during wet weather. Along with this comes stones and debris which block the grills & drains.

A small team of neighbours look after the grill & drain for Trees Avenue, so it is kept pretty clear. Trees Road is more problematic in that there is no team at present and the bottom of the road where it meets Valley Road gets periodically flooded and the drains blocked. Through the Residents Association’s Road Reps, the DIG has established contact with the Trees Ave team and we are now seeking to find one or two volunteers from Trees Rd. The aim is to try and get together a small cohesive group (perhaps linked together through WhatsApp) that can periodically clear the grills.

Affinity Pumping Station

I am just awaiting dates for a site meeting with Affinity to check out the culverts.

DEFRA Project

We have signed up this month to the Bucks CC / DEFRA project, titled:

Innovative Flood Resilience: Developing flood resilience in communities that are at risk of flooding from groundwater

Our involvement will essentially be through attending and contributing to steering group meetings and helping deliver community engagement. Their words, not mine.

This could be very beneficial for the Valley, with potentially the following topics covered:

· Groundwater warning systems: improved network of boreholes and rain gauges and to include innovative measures such as Livelab gully sensors

· Modelling of flood risk in groundwater fed areas across and to capture knowledge and understand better these areas where there are gaps in mapping and data

· Live flood warning system for residents using information from modelling and monitoring system

· Close working with communities through parishes, community boards, flood groups; social media and other innovative data gathering to capture their understanding and needs, taking a bottom-up approach

· Working with communities through engagement officers to raise awareness and readiness for flooding and develop flood wardens/groups for future resilience

· Events to encourage rain gardens, de-paving of driveways and more sustainable drainage within communities · Exploration with communities and landowners around opportunities for Natural Flood Management in the catchments which will help with climate change resilience.

· Researching and developing improved and innovative approaches to individual property flood resilience measures that address groundwater

· Working collaboratively with partners to identify projects which will be mutually beneficial to flooding, climate change and habitat creation to develop and sustain the health and wellbeing resilience of communities.

Valley Rd & Warrendene Rd Road Drains

The road drains (and the new drainage chambers) in Valley Road were meant to be cleaned and jetted following the drainage roadworks in mid-2020. As far as I know it didn’t happen. Since then, drains all along the Valley have become silted up and the leaf fall this winter only made it worse.

We have so far alerted Bucks CC via the ‘Fix My Street’ website, which is totally unsuitable for reporting in a detailed manner. This only seems to elicit a ‘No action Required’ response.

More recently I have asked David Carroll to bring this to the attention of James Tunnard. Nothing seems to be happening. It seems to me there is absolutely no point in getting drainage improvements engineered if then there is no follow-up maintenance to keep the improved drains clear. We need some form of better understanding with the Council to ensure routine preventative maintenance can be periodically carried out and exceptional action happens after heavy storms block drains.